July 8, 2008
Despite spending ever more time and money on the Internet, Americans don't seem to be wising up to online scams, says The Atlantic.
According to a recent report by the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center:
- While total complaints about online scams remained flat last year (at some 200,000), fraudsters made off with more money than ever -- $239 million, up about 20 percent over 2006.
- Fraud on auction sites like eBay caused the most complaints; an average loss of $484 per incident.
- Those schemes seem small in comparison with investment fraud ($3,548 per incident), check scams ($3,000) and Nigerian email rope-a-dopes ($1,923).
The feds also warn about secret-shopper scams, in which victims are hired to help evaluate retail outlets or restaurants. They get a bad check in the mail and are told to quickly wire a percent of the total to a third party to cover cost; by the time the check bounces, their money is gone.
Scammers also snared many victims on dating and social-networking sites, says The Atlantic. In these cons, the putative love interest asks for money to pay for travel to an amorous meeting, then claims to undergo a series of expensive disasters -- and asks for more cash.
Source: "Cyber Suckers," The Atlantic, July/August 2008.
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